Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Are you a logophile?

As a writer, broadcaster, radio commentator and editor of more than 20 years, Charles Harrington Elster has made his profession out of mastering the essence of communication- words. Perhaps a writer of reference books may not immediately attract your attention, but in a thoroughly amusing manner, Elster creates a catalog of people’s most bizarre questions about words.
In his most recent book, “What in the Word? Wordplay, Word Lore, and Answers to Your Peskiest Questions About Language,” Elster explores his love of language through chapters about the history, myths, pronunciation and usage behind the words of the English language.
His knowledge of words is outstanding, and in his 286 page book, Elster fills every page with answers to questions that have commonly plagued readers and writers of every profession. For instance, did you know that there is a word for the vertical groove that runs from the nose to the upper lip? It’s called a philtrum. Other entries include the real story behind the phrase “peeping Tom,” the word for a person who loves to read in bed, why we call the bathroom a john and the origin of the commonly used word okay.
The chapters are also filled with word games, curious brainteasers, fascinating quotes, interesting facts and expressions all related to words. Even if you do not normally use a dictionary or thesaurus, this book has been tediously written and complied to interest and entertain any reader.
His thoroughly impressive vocabulary and knowledge along with his ability to write comically yet concisely will never cease to attract readers. You may not be a logophile- a lover of words- or even a lexicomane- a lover of dictionaries- as Elster is, but nevertheless this enjoyable read truly reveals the art of language.

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